Oral History Reflection – Umi Guest Relations & Advertising Manager

To me, the oral history process was interesting and insightful, but there definitely were surprises and challenges that I had to face. Since this was the first time that I had to prepare for an interview, I was surprised at how hard it was to come up with questions for the interviewee, especially since there wasn’t a bio available that I could work off of. It was also a challenge constructing questions that could balance learning about the interviewee and learning about listening. I think my questions were more centered around listening and not enough about my interviewee. By asking more questions on his background, it would’ve probably helped me understand better why he listens the way he does.

I gained perspective into my own identity by learning that others can be more particular and less impulsive when it comes to communicating. What really stuck out to me in the interview was when my interviewee explained how he handled negative/challenging listening situations. He would take time to let certain things marinate for a night before responding. I feel as if I always want to get things settled or exclaimed right away and then I go home and say to myself “Man, I wish I would’ve said this” or “That wasn’t how I wanted my message to come out” but the conversation is over. I think being less confrontational would improve my current relationships that  I have with others.

The readings and concepts weren’t strongly connected to my interview. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as apparent as I expected it to be, but I had to remember that not many people get formal training and education on the topic of listening. However, appreciated seeing some of my interviewee’s listening techniques that come to him naturally, such as leading with emotion and accountability, were present in his career life. I could see them connect to readings and concepts that were discussed in class.  I really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and interview Richard. It was an opportunity for me to use my listening skills that I have learned in class, such as ditching distractions, taking notes and suspending my sense of self in order to fully listen and immerse myself into his story. I think that I learned a lot from him as well when it comes to how I should listen to others not only in person, but online as well. This was something very insightful as I normally work with digital platforms in terms of marketing. And digital communication has become a huge part of our lives today so this is something we should take serious thought into.

If I could interview him again, I definitely would. I want to become more comfortable going off-script and asking more follow-up questions  in order to get more information. I would also like to try a different location. We had originally set up to meet at the restaurant that he worked for, but the noise seemed to be quite a distraction. I think that the conversation became much more organic over time, this really showed me the importance of asking a few simple questions in the beginning of an interview to break the ice in order for the interviewee to become more comfortable. I think these types of interviews too should have more than 25-20 minute time frame in order for both of us to feel comfortable interviewing and speaking as well. Overall, it was a really great experience. I learned a lot from Richard regarding his personal values and career behavior when it comes to listening. I think it will be of great benefit for me when I start out on my first full-time position in the next few months.